Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Larry McMurtry

Years ago I watched and enjoyed the made for TV series of Lonesome Dove, based off the same book by author Larry McMurtry. Later I read the book. And then reread it at least two more times—because it was THAT good!

Once, I read it during a family road trip vacation to California, in which we traveled from Wisconsin, through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Nevada and finally California. After visiting friends and relatives across California, we circled back to Wisconsin via northern Arizona, New Mexico (with stops in Santa Fe and Albuquerque), northern Texas and back up north home.

The book was the perfect background for the road trip. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as we cruised through the panhandle of Nebraska, where the “real” west seemed to begin, at least to me. The panhandle gave me my first glimpses of dryer land, sage brush, and mountains slowly rising in the distance. I could just imagine Apache or Comanche speeding towards our care on their horses, with their bows and arrows and guns at the ready. By the time we reached Wyoming I really felt that the setting from parts Lonesome Dove and the scenery that surounded me were melding together. I was walking the land described in Lonesome Dove. Oh how I wanted to camp down among the sage brush and cacti and "stay with you in the desert tonight, with a thousand stars all around..." becauseI had a peaceful, easy feeling.

Brokeback Mountain was also based off of a McMurtry book. Now I’m halfway through Anything for Billy, a McMurtry novel based around the life, crimes, and adventures of Billy the Kid.

McMurty is one of those writers who has the gift of seamlessly transporting one back to a specific place and time in history. His characters have depth. His descriptions of the land, scenery, dialects, and characters are so real that you literally leave 2006 and can taste the canned beans and harsh whiskey of the Wild West. You can smell the stale tobacco or cigar smoke—as well as the unwashed characters who at times live off the land and their cattle.

It’s not that Anything for Billy is a unique Western novel. Billy the Kid’s story has been told many times and in many places. But McMurtry does it in his own unique way, which makes the story come alive unlike most novels can bring to life any characters or locales.

I don’t know the point of this post. I guess if any of you readers are looking for an escape, for a book that carries you away from your day to day life off to a time and place that existed for only a short period, then Lonesome Dove is a book you ought to consider reading.

‘Nuff said, compandres.


Blogger airforcewife said...

We've driven through most of the US now in our various PCS's, and by far the worst was Utah. Salt, salt, salt and bugs. In Salt Lake City, the bugs came in through the a/c vents.

Wyoming was scary, though, because we figured out really quick that if we didn't top off our tank at every gas station, we might just not make it to the next one.

And it was beautiful for about an hour. I was happy to make it to our hotel in Sidney, though. We saw our first Pony Express station in Nebraska.

1:20 PM  

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